Letter by John Hislop to Sathya Sai Organization leaders
Posted by robertpriddy on December 17, 2009
TRANSCRIPT OF THE FIRST HISLOP LETTER IN BLACK TEXT – WITH COMMENTS BESIDE IT IN PURPLE
| (See scan of original xerox circular from Hislop Note that the PS. appears at the top of the scan)
Jan. 18, 1981
By the time you receive this memo. you will already have received the letter which Mrs. Payne has mailed to each of us. And we hear she is sending it to other people in addition to ourselves.By the time you receive this memo you will already have received the letter which Mrs. X has mailed to each of us. And we hear she is sending it to other people in addition to ourselves.No doubt this is a terrible letter which carries the potential of destroying Sri Bhagavan in the West, and destroying also the spiritual life and spiritual faith of many devotees. What can be said by each of us to devotees and other who come to us to express their distress? Directors Bayer, Goldstein, Krystal and myself have been going over and over the problem as we were talking together this weekend. Let me first say what we are not able to explain. There are two ways for us to respond to these horrible stories about Sri Bhagavan. One is to believe Sri Bhagavan when He says the stories are totally untrue, and the other is to believe the stories. If our decision is to not believe the stories, then the question arises as to what moves so many people to say these false stories. This question we are quite unable to answer. I have written urgently to Sri Bhagavan asking Him to kindly supply us with the correct answer. I pray that we will be able to know the correct thing to say in response when people raise this doubt. Now, what are we able to explain? First of all it can be said that Hislop went to Sri Bhagavan while in India this past December, told Him of the stories which were circulating, in clinical detail and withholding nothing. Sri Baba listened carefully, and without anger but in a most serious voice replied that the stories were untrue and they were totally false. Second, the following can be explained. The person who believes the stories chooses to believe also that Sri Bhagavan is a hypocrite, a liar and a criminal. Why? (1) He would be a hypocrite because He pretends that His life is above the senses; and because He told me in an interview (which you have seen) that a homosexual is denied Membership in a Center, that this person should be questioned closely and be admitted only if the person desires to change their life away from that of a homosexual, and that people were homosexuals because of weakness of mind. (2) He would be a liar because He told me, face to face, in the most serious way that the homosexual stories about Him were totally untrue. (3) He would be a criminal because the homosexual abuse of children under His care and protection is a criminal action and such people are punished by jail sentences.
Now, is the above portrait of Sri Baba the portrait that the person really sees and believes in? Because, that is the portrait of Sri Baba that the person who believes the stories is actually taking into their mind. If such is really their portrait of Sri Baba, then that person should seriously consider a clear break away from Him. With such a portrait of Sri Baba nagging at the back of the mind, the person will not find peace of mind, and life will be troubled and unhappy. Most people who may tend to believe these horrible stories about Sri Bhagavan have not, I feel sure, carefully thought through the situation. If it is carefully explained what the person is actually saying about Sri Bhagavan when these stories are even partially accepted, I believe it would be of genuine help to the person. I urge that you yourself carefully think through the situation, carefully consider all aspects of it, and come to a very serious and firm conclusion, which will then be your strength when you have to talk about this to a troubled devotee.
P.S. We are also contacting people we know who lived and worked in the…. college at Brindavan to get written statements from them about the situation with the boys. We have already talked to Jack Hand, who taught Physical Ed & Health at the College for two years. At no time did he hear even one of these stories. As far as he is concerned, such stories did not exist with the college students.
P.S.S. Another point: It is downright crazy to even conceive that such a situation could exist without indictment from parents & Government, whereas Gov. Leaders are Swami’s strong devotees.
In contacting long-inducted and convinced foreign devotees who knew no Telugu or other Indian languages Hislop made clear that he did not intend to investigate the allegations almost before he had begun. The only correct way would have been to contact some of those who accused Sai Baba of abusing them.
Indian students who originally begged David Bailey for his help to stop Sai Baba abusing them might – if very sensitively handled – been willing to relate their experiences to Hislop, despite his being a signed-up and dyed-in-the-wool believer in Sai Baba’s divinity. It would have been difficult for them, but they did dare to tell David Bailey who must have inspired their trust in him, even though six devotees were murdered in 1993, some of whom were allegedly also sexually abused. Failing them, there were enough brave young Western young men who would have testified as to the truth. Hislop has long since been informed of Sai Baba’s sexual abuse by Conny Larsson and, when Hislop went in to ask Sai Baba about that, he was immediately thrown out of the interview room. (Note: the “Mrs X” referred to was Mrs. Payne, originally Ms. Diana Scott, mother of Terry Scott)
Instead, he asked Westerners like Jack Hand, Richard Kaplowitz (who was himself approached by a student who made such allegations, but rejected it as not credible!) and persons with vested interests (prestige, professional credibility etc.) in not crediting the facts… Richard Bayer, Phyllis Krystal, Dr. Michael Goldstein, and Dr. Samuel Sandweiss. Such devotees were kept in the dark about all remotely sensitive issues, as I came to discover with certainty that all foreign devotees are in the tightly censoring Baba ashrams.
Hislop says there are two ways to respond – believe or not belive the ‘stories’. But Hislop’s simplistic black-white thinking and deep investment in his belief blinded him to the obvious option – serious investigation of the allegations. That would have been the best one for all concerned, whether Sai Baba were proven guilty or innocent. Hislop’s emphasis on Sai Baba’s claims of innocence show his mind to be made up in advance. However, believers in Sai Baba would not easily be able to gain the confidence of the students and others who say they were abused, so a reliable and respected neutral party would have to be called upon. For one can’t easily imagine Sai Baba’s students – under his very restrictive and moralistic discipline and ominous power – freely questioning in public, ‘Sir, why does God abuse me sexually?’Questioning Sathya Sai Baba was better than absolutely nothing, but it is obvious he would not admit to guilt. Having built himself up as being such an unsurpassable holiness through decades, and having encouraged a massive movement praising him as the saviour of the world… well, how could he face the consequences? He had already tried in advance to avert the worst effects of what such a long history of reported abuses must have realized could not be concealed for ever by stating that “a great scandal is coming” and similar things which might make him seem to be prescient.
Hislop shows far greater concern for the consequences of finding out that Sai Baba was guilty than discovering the facts. After his years of servility to the man he believes to be God the Creator of the Universe, he could not face the idea that Sai Baba is a hypocrite, a liar and a criminal.
Hislop shows his complete naivety and ignorance of social conditions in India – not to mention the rest of the world (eg. the Catholic Church as one instance) when he wrote: “It is downright crazy to even conceive that such a situation could exist without indictment from parents & Government“.
On the contrary, such situations have existed for eons and are coming to light on a broader and vaster scale all the time.
The situation in India is especially bad, as the Indian Government’s own official most thorough research report together with UNICEF and Save the Children makes all too clear
(Fifty-three per cent of India’s forty million children claim to have been sexually abused. That is over 20 million child victims!)
See official Government report: http://www.wcd.nic.in/childabuse.pdf